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Archive for August, 2018

Nayong Pilipino Foundation Slams Corruption Allegations over Casino Project

Nayong Pilipino Foundation officials once again denied corruption allegations and stressed on the legality of the foundation’s deal with Hong Kong casino resort developer Landing International Development that secured the latter with a land plot for the development of a $1.5-billion hotel and casino complex.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired earlier this month all members of the board of the state-run organization that was established back in the 1970s to run the Nayong Pilipino cultural theme park located in Pasay City in the Metro Manila area.

Earlier this year, Nayong Pilipino Foundation penned an agreement with Landing to lease the land previously occupied by the above-mentioned theme park for the development of an integrated resort with a casino floor, hotels, and multiple non-gambling entertainment options. The site is located within Entertainment City in the Manila Bay area and not far from where the Philippine capital’s three operational integrated resorts have been built.

The Hong Kong-based developer broke ground on the property earlier this month. However, President Duterte announced hours after the ground-breaking ceremony that measures will be taken to block the materialization of the mega-plan.

The Philippines’ top official said that the lease deal was flawed and “grossly disadvantageous” as the lease period was “ridiculously long” and the lease rates were too low. In addition, the members of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation were accused of corruption.

President Duterte also ordered the Department of Justice to carry out a review of the lease deal. DOJ officials announced earlier today that the probe was completed on Wednesday but refused to reveal more details about the department’s findings.

Nayong Pilipino Foundation Slams Corruption, Graft Allegations

In a written statement released across several local news outlets on Wednesday, the foundation said that it has followed “all procedural and legal requirements” before the project was launched and that its members were “falsely and maliciously accused” of corruption.

Under the terms of the deal between Nayong Pilipino Foundation and Landing, the latter agreed to lease the portion of land for a period of 25 years with an option for an extension of the deal for another 25 years. In his comments against the deal, President Duterte has pointed out that it was a ridiculously long one and granted Landing permission to use the land for a period of 70 years and operate a casino on it. And the official has repeatedly pointed out that no other casinos beyond the existing ones would be allowed in the country.

The foundation stressed that a 70-year lease period has never been discussed by the two parties and that the initial lease period could only be extended to 50 years if the Philippine Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority classifies Landing’s development as a tourism project.

As for President Duterte’s comments that the lease price was too low, the foundation said that Landing has agreed to pay PHP360 per square meter per month for the 9.57-hectare property and to contribute 10% of the net profits from the three theme parks that are planned to be developed as part of the integrated resort, which effectively raises the lease price to PHP570 per square meter per month. The foundation’s statement further read that Resorts World Manila pays PHP156.66 per square meter per month for the 5.4-hectare site it occupies, a price significantly lower than what Landing has agreed to pay.

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Pharmaceutical Company Signals Interest in Mystery Casino Resort Project in Europe

Canadian pharmaceutical company Easton Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a Letter of Intent to participate into a project for the development of hotel and casino resort in Europe.

The location of the future property and other details about it have remained undisclosed and more information is expected to be released in the coming weeks, once the ongoing negotiations are closed. The company is set to partner with the American gaming arm of a Canadian holding and investment company that is spearheading the project.

Easton said in a press release from Wednesday that the planned integrated resort will feature a casino with 1,000 slot machines and 50 gaming tables, a hotel with 538 rooms and VIP suites, retail space, a showroom, a spa and wellness center, different food and beverage options, a convention facility, and a 504-space parking garage. The property will be a high-end one in “an idyllic river” area. It is projected to generate annual revenues of more than €77 million.

Easton Pharmaceuticals CEO Evan Karras said in the Wednesday press release that they anticipate the property to be among the most prominent of this kind when it becomes operational. The executive further noted that his company’s participation in the project is part of its strategy to expand its presence in the global gambling industry. The deal is expected to create “value and growth” for Easton Pharmaceuticals, Mr. Karras added.

Second Casino Project in Europe

This is the second European casino project Easton has announced interest in participating in over the past several weeks. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it has begun discussions with involved parties over the acquisition of an interest or participation in the acquisition of an already operational hotel and casino resort in Greece.

According to a company press release from last week, the property in question features a casino with 1,000 slot machines, 87 gaming tables and a VIP area, 255 hotel rooms and 20 suites, a private beach, eight restaurants, a spa and wellness center, and convention facilities. The property is one of Greece’s nine operational casinos.

Mr. Karras participated in the privatization of the South European country’s gambling sector back in the 1990s and, as stated in a press release from last week, has established strong relationships with representatives of that industry. In addition, the businessman has been familiar with the operation the property his company has expressed interest in.

Easton has not revealed further details about the property it is planning to get involved in the operation of due to the confidential nature of the ongoing negotiations. The company is expected to release additional statements once in the coming weeks after the expected completion of the ongoing discussions.

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New Massachusetts Casino Welcomes 150,000 Visitors in First Weekend

MGM Springfield welcomed 150,000 visitors during its first weekend of operation, owners of the $960-million hotel and casino resort said on Wednesday. The property, a first of its kind in the state of Massachusetts, opened doors on Friday, August 24 to massive interest.

MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said on Wednesday that the busy three days of operations exceeded their expectations. The casino official thus touted the property’s opening weekend as a pure success.

Photos and reports from the resort’s opening weekend showed crowds stretching all along Springfield’s Main and State Streets. The opening of the actual property was preceded by a street parade that involved construction workers and casino employees, musicians and entertainers.

Mr. Mathis further commented yesterday that hotel rooms and dining facilities at the resort were fully booked during the first weekend to contribute to what the official described as a “historic opening”. The MGM Springfield President said that they expect average attendance of 15,000 visitors per day.

MGM Springfield is the state’s first integrated resort with a commercial Las Vegas-style gaming floor. A second property of this king – the $2-plus-billion Encore Boston Harbor, currently being developed in the Greater Boston area by Wynn Resorts, is slated to open doors next summer. Massachusetts also has a slots-only gaming hall, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. That facility opened doors in 2015. The two integrated resorts and the slot machine parlor are part of a casino gambling expansion process that Massachusetts residents approved through a statewide referendum in the early 2010s and lawmakers crafted a relevant regulatory framework for.

MGM’s Presence in Massachusetts Could Bode Well for Sports Betting

The opening of MGM Springfield represents MGM Resorts International’s entry into Massachusetts’s nascent casino market. And according to many, the Las Vegas-based gaming and hospitality giant could help the state introduce sports betting following the recent annulment of the federal ban on wagering on professional and amateur sports.

In an industry first, MGM recently penned a multi-year partnership to become the official gambling partner of the NBA and the WNBA. According to sports betting aficionados, the agreement could have a positive impact on the legalization of this type of gambling activity and the successful creation of a profitable industry in Massachusetts.

State lawmakers are expected to introduce a legislation allowing sports betting during the 2019-2020 legislative session. In a series of comments on the matter, House Rep. Joseph Wagner, who chairs the House Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, has said that the Legislature has begun work on the creation of a wagering-focused bill and that the matter has been moved to the front burner, but legislators are not planning to act too quickly in order to avoid “getting it wrong”.

According to a 2017 report commissioned by the American Gaming Association and compiled by Oxford Economics, Massachusetts could collect around $8.6 million in tax revenue every year if it legalizes sports betting at its land-based casinos only and taxes the activity at 6.75%. Tax revenue of more than $61 million could be generated if sports betting gets legalized across casinos, retail locations, and online and is taxed at 15%, per the recent study.

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Former EPT Champ Ben Wilinofsky Leads after EPT Barcelona Main Event Day 2

The EPT Barcelona has over the years made a name for itself as a record-smashing festival and this year showed no diversion from this trend. The brand-new edition of the €5,300 Main Event drew a record number of 1,931 entries (including 457 re-entries) who generated a massive €9,365,350 prize pool.

And if the starting flights of the prestigious tournament were packed with action, Day 2 was sizzling and blazing. Among other things, the eventful second day of play saw the money bubble burst. Guillaume Diaz became the unfortunate bubble boy who left in 297th place just an arm’s stretch away from a min-cash of €8,150.

The massive field of the tournament was reduced to just 259 players by the end of Day 2. They all bagged for the night and will resume play later today at the host venue, Casino Barcelona.

Ben Wilinofsky, who came into Day 2 as the chip leader from Day 1A, maintained his great momentum from the tournament’s starting flight to squeeze the largest stack of the night at the closure of the second day of play. The player, originally from Canada, bagged 850,000 in chips last night.

It is important to note that winning an EPT Main Event is not a strange experience to Wilinofsky. The player took down the EPT Berlin Main Event in 2011 for a cash prize of €825,000. This was Wilinofsky’s first in-the-money finish in a live tournament and has been his largest cash to date. That may well change within the next few days as the player, together with all the remaining survivors, is contending for a first-place prize of €1,611,500.

Who Else Is Still In Contention

Wilinofsky is leading a pack of 259 hopefuls with his 850,000 stack. He is ahead of David Petrzelka with 771,000 and Ali Imsirovic with 723,000, who too comprise the top three chip stacks of the night. It could be said that Imsirovic dominated action towards the end of Day 2 and could have easily been the chip leader, if it were not for Patrik Antonius who won a key hand to trim him back. Despite that setback, Imsirovic is still in a good position to attack the first-place cash on Day 3.

Team PokerStars Pro Jaime Staples was the only brand ambassador for the poker room still left in contention at the end of Day 2. The player bagged 196,000 in chips to make it to the the middle of the chip counts chart.

France’s Benjamin Pollak headlines a plethora of prominent poker pros, including the likes of Shaun Deeb, Antonius, Viktor Blom, Mustapha Kanit, and Chris Moorman. Pollak himself came into the Main Event fresh off his triumph in the €50,000 Single-Day High Roller.

Main Event action at Casino Barcelona is set to resume today at noon local time. The 259 remaining contenders are all vying for the €1.6 million first-place prize, but it will elude many of them as the field will be further whittled down. The Main Event finale is set to be played on Sunday at the host casino.

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NFL Club Owners Retain Stakes in DraftKings Despite Sports Betting Launch

The owners of two NFL clubs have not disposed of their stakes in daily fantasy operator turned bookmaker DraftKings as the new season is weeks away from kicking off and sports betting legalization efforts are gaining pace in multiple states.

Major US sports media outlet ESPN reported on Tuesday citing unnamed sources that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have not sold yet their stakes in the daily fantasy company, which recently launched a mobile sports betting app in New Jersey.

Both businessmen have small stakes in DraftKings, less than 5% each, sources have confirmed. Asked to comment on the matter, a Cowboys spokesperson has told ESPN that Mr. Jones indeed owned a stake in DraftKings but his ownership was through sports hospitality company Legends and not through the football team.

However, it turns out that both Mr. Kraft and Mr. Jones are not in a conflict of interest, or at least not yet. Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for NFL, has told ESPN that under existing policies of the league, members are allowed to own equity interest in a given business that does not generate more than a third of its overall revenue from gambling services.

Where Does DraftKings’ Betting Product Stands At?

At present, fantasy sports is DraftKings’ primary product. However, in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, CEO Jason Robins said that it will not be long before the company begins deriving the majority of its revenue from sports betting. He added that they expect that to happen in the next two to three years, depending on “how fast the states roll out”.

DraftKings joined the US sports betting scene, which is gradually expanding with every day passing, at the beginning of August. The company launched a mobile wagering product in New Jersey, a result from its partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel. DraftKings Sportsbook actually became the state’s first mobile betting app. The product offers different types of betting, including in-game bets and pre-season betting, and makes it possible for bettors to exit a wager through a ‘cash out’ feature.

Gambling consultancy Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that DraftKings’ revenue from daily fantasy sports stood at around $218 million in 2017. It is to be seen how much the company will generate from sports betting during the first month and throughout the rest of the year.

ESPN points out that should DraftKings’ betting revenue eventually lines up and eclipses its proceeds from daily fantasy sports, it will be a costly move for Mr. Kraft and Mr. Jones to dispose of their stakes in the company. Still, they will be forced to divest, under NFL’s current policies.

NFL has long been one of the biggest opponents of sports betting, arguing that it threatens the integrity of sports The football league is one of the four major US leagues that are seeking a share of the revenue generated by the nation’s sports betting industry in the form of an integrity fee, with NBA, NHL, and MLB being the other three.

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